Hide Files with Steganography (Part 2)

11/17/2012 9:19:19 AM

You may be wondering how it can be possible to store information within photos and music without changing it or being detected. It's because our eyes and our ears are not perfect and there's a limit to what they can detect. Very small changes are not noticeable, so a photo or audio file can be subtly changed without being noticed.

A digital camera photo is made up of pixels, and each one can be any one of millions of colors. However, the eye can distinguish less than 100,000 colors and two pixels that are very similar colors look identical. Pixels have red, green and blue (RGB) components and each is eight bits, which allows for 256 colors numbered 0 to 255. Bright red is 255, 0, 0 but 254, 0, 0 is so close to bright red you can't tell them apart. In binary the colors are 11111111 and 11111110, so the eye can't detect whether the last bit is a 0 or a 1. It can therefore be used to store some other information. A pixel uses red, green and blue values to specify the color, so three bits in each pixel are unused. Every three pixels there are nine bits, and only eight are needed to specify ASCII character like letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. So every three pixels in an image can store a character.


A three megapixel digital camera photo has three million pixels, which means that it's capable of storing one million characters by using that last bit the eye can't detect. This whole article could fit in an ordinary digital camera photo ten times over and there would still be spare capacity! You wouldn't have imagined it was possible, but it's true.

It's possible that someone might scan the photos on your PC, stripping out the lowest bits from the pixels and seeing if it makes recognizable words. To make steganography even harder to crack, the text can be encrypted so that it looks like a random collection of bits no different to a normal photo.

There are many utilities that can perform this seemingly magical trick of hiding one thing in another, so if you want to hide banking, shopping and website passwords, personal information and secret files, there's plenty of choice.


Description: OpenPuff is more complicated than the average utility for hiding files, but it is effective
OpenPuff is more complicated than the average utility for hiding files, but it is effective

OpenPuff is an open-source steganography utility that supports a wide range of file formats and encryption algorithms. One of the techniques it uses to hide information is to split it among several files. Instead of hiding a file within a photograph, you can select one or more images (BMP, JPG, PCX, PNG, TGA), audio files (AIFF, MP3, NEXT/SUN, WAV), videos (3GP, MP4, MPG, VOB), and Flash (FLV, SWF, PDF). For example, you could select four photos or a couple of videos or even a whole music album containing many tracks. Only part of the information is stored in each of the files, and if someone tries to decrypt the information they would need to know not only the files you used, but also the order in which they were used. On top of this, there are 1 6 256-bit open-source cryptography algorithms and more. It's amazing how it encrypts and distributes the information among the files.

The software is a bit confusing at first, but after a few attempts it gets easier. Click the hide button on the home screen and the Data Hiding window is displayed. Three passwords are entered in the top-left corner in section one and they must have a minimum of eight characters. Click the Browse button in section two on the right and select the file you want to hide. It can be anything such as text, an image and so on. In section three, click the Add button and add files until the Selected/ Total box turns green. These files, called carriers, are the ones that will host the hidden file, and different types have different capacities. After selecting the carriers, on the right expand the file format and select the bit density. The Maximum setting packs more information in, whereas Minimum spreads it over more files.

MP3 files can't store much information, but JPEGs can, and one digital camera photo might contain as much as a whole MP3 album. When extracting the hidden file, you do the same process again. Enter the passwords, select the carrier files, and choose the bit density


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